Mm…I had a flight delayed by an entire day, so I decided to do something productive with that time.
This is Barbara Gordon; you probably already know about her. She was once Batgirl, but since 1986 she’s been the amazing computer specialist, and the invaluable eyes and ears (with a bright brain attached) of Gotham City’s vigilantes. She’s in a wheelchair, by the way, and that’s a big part of her motivation for being a crimefighter. She’s pretty great.
But DC’s retooling their universe come September, and she’s gonna go back to being Batgirl. What’s the motivation? I dunno; probably nostalgia for comics pre-1986. Doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that…Well, think about this: how many other superheroes can you name who use a wheelchair? It’s not a lot, is it? That’s a perspective on the world that’s being taken away from the DC universe’s stories. They’re limiting the kind of stories they can tell; I can’t help but think that that’s rather the opposite ideal for the world of comics. And I sure have been reading a lot of opinion pieces from people who themselves are comic-reading wheelchair-users, and how very hurt they are that a hero that they have such personal extra-special feelings for isn’t gonna be a part of their (very very very) underrepresented group. That’s pretty heartbreaking. And for those of us who don’t use wheelchairs, it’s also a sad thing; after all, the stories we tell reveal the things that are important to us, and teach us what and who are important. They teach us how to have empathy. I think the world needs more empathy. Just my two cents.
So, um…Just wanted to show my support for the notion that Barbara should remain as Oracle. For the good of storytelling, and, really, for the good of the world, man, ya know?
The original painting is up for sale. I’ve also made a few art prints. 100% of proceeds going to Wheels for Humanity. Send me a note if you’re interested.
character by Gardner Fox & Carmine Infantino, DC Comics
watercolor & ink; J. E. Seames, 2011